Jeff’s Jabb #13: Goodbye To Education

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October 20, 2016 by Jeff Lowen

The past year, the following Realtor® issue was heard and passed by the Virginia General Assembly: Waiving of Continuing Education as required to be a Realtor® and was lobbied successfully by the board of Realtors®.

Virginia Realtors® worked with legislators to give the Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) the authority to waive real estate CE credits in cases of illness or hardship.

State Realtor® boards are empowered by The National Association of Realtors®, one of America’s biggest lobbying and professional trade organizations (y’know, like the Teamster’s Union). Many brokerages across the country don’t give the option to decline to join the board.

Now, I’m all about lending a hand. I understand hardship. Not many of us on this planet have been isolated from financial strain and illness. However, aren’t we exposing the consumer here??

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Waiving education that is critical to the practice of helping a consumer with their largest financial and domestic asset of their lives…

Sign me up! I’ll be raising my hand to work with an agent that’s had an unfortunate hardship, thereby missing out on important and critical legal, ethical, and contractual knowledge most likely costing me tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses in the process… AND, I’ll pay them a handsome fee for doing it, too.

Okay. Don’t call me heartless just yet. I’m all about hands across the water, yet, should we look at this a little differently? What about the real estate board offering low cost or no cost continuing education classes for agents that experience hardship? Wouldn’t that keep up the professionalism that the board of Realtors® so fervently tries to impose on the general public?

Is it so heartless to suggest extending the time it takes to complete the continuing education hours if you become ill?

If I were heartless, I’d say, just what the industry needs is more uneducated agents out there; without offering some sort of solution. In the trenches, I’ve seen agents miss contract updates, use part of a new contract with pages of an old, outdated one; forget to disclose pertinent information and disclosure documents.

How’s your ‘warm fuzzy’ when your doctor tells you he’s not up to date on the latest methods because he missed his continuing ed class… As he begins to wield his scalpel.

If I were heartless, I’d suggest that this is just a sort of bailout to keep broke or otherwise excuse-laden agents paying their Realtor® board fees. Shouldn’t we address why the agent cannot afford the classes in the first place?

Side note: I just finished my latest continuing education for Virginia to the tune of less than $50. Perhaps I’d be less heartless if the Realtor® board would waive fifty bucks off their annual $600 membership fee instead, eh?

I’m curious who makes the decision whether an agent has a qualified financial or illness hardship. What criterion would they use? If it’s financial, do they address the reason they can’t afford it? Budget classes, money management, etc. Or, is it just a band-aid to keep agents paying the $600 membership fee?

Hardship is unfortunate. Helping someone in need is necessary, noble and I believe, built into our DNA. This newly passed legislation is more about ‘transferring’ the hardship (to the consumer) rather than lending a helping hand.

A few notes on what other state real estate boards claim:

California: The mission of the California Bureau of Real Estate is to safeguard and promote the public interests in REAL ESTATE MATTERS through licensure, regulation, education and enforcement.

Michigan: Protecting private property rights, and fending off burdensome regulations on our industry.

Tennessee: To protect the public through establishment and administration of minimum requirements for candidates and licensees, effective professional education of licensees and enforcement of professional conduct.

Utah: To protect the public and promote responsible business practices through education, licensure, and regulation of real estate, mortgage, and appraisal professionals.

Virginia: To come up with crazy ideas to flood the industry with less than competent practitioners (Ok, I made that up).


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